Welcome to Silverton
By: Al Homann

    It comes upon you all of the sudden, just as you round another of those endless curves on this particular Colorado Highway. Even with your eyes on the road, trying not to be apprehensive about the sparcity of guard rails to hold you back from a tumble down the mountain side, you spot this little town 500 feet below and off to your right.

Silverton Colorado
 
It disappears briefly till the next bend, which is when you decide to pull over on thee small siding to take a good look. Then, after a glance at your map, you realize it must be the town of Silverton. The map, one dimensional as it is, couldn’t tell you that coming North from Durango you would steadily climb to over 10,000 feet in elevation, go over one pass, dip down a bit, then over another on your way to Silverton. You’ve heard of this old mining town of Silverton, wanted to see it for yourself, now here you are at your first sighting.
 
Five minutes later and 500 feet downhill and you are there, stopping at the Silverton's Visitor Center right at the entrance of town. Once inside you know you made the right decision to route yourself through this picturesque mountain region, for the people there are helpful, offering information on the numerous activities that can be pursued in the area, The San Juan Range & The Rocky Mountains!
 
Silverton 1800's
Stagecoach in front of the
Grand Imperial Hotel
 
    The entire town of Silverton, incorporated in 1874, is a national Historic District. A 1 hour stroll along its two main streets, Greene & Blair, will carry you back to when the town was in its Glory days. Many homes & buildings, including the Town Hall & County CourtHouse, still reflect the Victorian flavor of those days gone by.
 
Many homes in the residential areas in Silverton were built in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s, still standing, still occupied, showing off their historical finery. Back in those days, mining was King. It was the reason the town grew to over 5,000 in Population. Today it musters only about 500 permanent residents.
   

In the late 1860’s and into the 70’s, prospectors migrated into the area in search of gold. Though many "Glory Holes" produced marginal results, eventually the Hard Rock miners extracted almost 100 tons of Gold and more than 2000 tons of Silver. Milling facilities sprung up to process the many tons of rock that contained these precious metals.
Silverton 1800's
Pack Train
 
Durango Silverton narrow gauge Production was so great, three Short-Line railroads were built to haul supplies to the mines and the ore back into Silverton. In effect, the town was a mini-Railroad Hub, connecting with the Denver, Rio Grande & western that came up from Durango. Today, only the latter remains, hauling summer tourists into this mountain town.
Part 2 ==>
 
Last updated 1/28/08
 
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